Yolo County District Attorney’s Neighborhood Court Program Seeks Volunteers and Community Input on Program Expansion

Press Release

(Woodland, CA) – March 25, 2019 –The Yolo County District Attorney’s Neighborhood Court (NHC) will hold volunteer panelist trainings this spring. NHC is the core program in the Yolo County District Attorney’s restorative justice diversion suite, which also includes NHC-Full Service Partners (FSP) and the Steps to Success (S2S) program. NHC-FSP and S2S provide restorative resolutions to criminal justice involved individuals with contributing mental health and/or addiction issues. The NHC panelist training course is a prerequisite for service in any of the DA’s restorative programming options. Interested local community members are encouraged to apply online at www.yoloda.org/nc and sign up for an upcoming training date (see below).

NHC’s core program is an innovative restorative justice diversion program which has been in operation since June of 2013. NHC conferences are staffed by local volunteers who hear and facilitate criminal cases and develop agreements aimed at providing individualized outcomes using the principles of restorative justice. This process provides a voice for members of the cities affected by crimes to express how they have been harmed and what they need in order to make things right. Program outcomes are designed to address the underlying issues affecting participants while prioritizing their acceptance of responsibility and reparation of harms to the community and any direct victims affected. These conferences function best by involving a diverse group of volunteers to represent their local communities.

NHC volunteers receive training in the basic principles of restorative justice and the 3-step Neighborhood Court conference process. NHC-FSP and S2S utilize the same 3-step process, with the addition of a case plan developed by a caseworker/clinician. The case worker/clinician is a participant in the NHC-FSP and S2S conference and agreements are designed to encourage the participant’s progress on their case plan and reengagement with the community.

In 2015, the core program received a $1.9-million Justice Assistance Grant to fund expansion across Yolo County. In over 1600 conferences to date, the NHC model has shown a remarkable reduction in recidivism rates for program participants. NHC-FSP and S2S have already expanded the model to reach certain vulnerable populations. Now NHC is working to make these positive outcomes available to more people in the core program by expanding the types of offenses and eligibility requirements for participants. The program is pursuing a second round of funding to add social services staff that will provide supplemental support to address the needs of an expanded participant population.

The District Attorney is seeking public input on expansion efforts, and invites all local residents to attend a public meeting of the Neighborhood Court Advisory Board on Wednesday, March 27th, from 6-7:30pm, in the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office at 301 2nd Street. This meeting will review the current funding opportunity, discuss motivation and goals for program expansion, and receive community feedback.

Upcoming Training Dates:
Volunteer Panelist Training: Saturday, April 27th, 8:45am – 5pm at the Davis Police Dept. 2600 5th Street

To find out more about the Neighborhood Court program or submit an application and register for an upcoming training date, visit www.yoloda.org/nc or email Nicole.Kirkaldy@yolocounty.org.

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Image depicts DDA Chris Bulkeley leading a Neighborhood Court training session.